Journal Issue:
Iowa's population prospect Iowa Agriculture and Home Economics Experiment Station Research Bulletin: Volume 15, Issue 177

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Iowa's population prospect
( 2017-05-30) Whelpton, P. K. ; Extension and Experiment Station Publications

A state can be no greater than its people. In an agricultural state such as Iowa where the importance of soil conservation and land utilization programs is recognized and where pathological social problems are relatively few, population adjustments are usually taken for granted. In agriculture, however, the union between land and people is closest. Farmers should be most appreciative of the slogan, "Under all, the land, but on the land, the people."

Fundamental long time adjustments are taking place not only in business, industry and agriculture, but also in the number of population. People in Iowa and in the United States are engaged in an unplanned population adjustment program characterized by a continued reduction in the number of births, increase in the length of life and movement of population from place to place. The rural birth rate is higher than the city rate. Rural people are maintaining the population of Iowa; Iowa cities would decrease in population were it not for the incoming rural young people who bolster up the lower city birth rate.

Realizing the importance of population changes for Iowa, Mr. P. K. Whelpton of the Scripps Foundation for Research in Population Problems was secured to analyze the various factors affecting Iowa population and to forecast the probable population of the state 50 years hence. That Iowa in 1980 will not have 3,000,000 population and may actually have a slightly smaller population than at present is one of his challenging conclusions.

Business and professional men, manufacturers, workers and farmers must consider necessary adjustments to this situation. Obviously, schools will have proportionally fewer children to educate and old age dependency will increase. Expansion will cease to be a virtue; people will move less frequently and less emphasis upon numbers will open the way for a belated consideration of population quality. Towns and villages, no longer prospective cities, will of necessity foster closer cooperation with farming people.

Farmers with no expanding markets will turn to a more stabilized system of farming, and conservation measures will be commonly accepted. Such changes demand careful planning but they do not imply stagnation. Rather, with stabilized population, effective plans can be made with added assurance of fulfillment.